Seatwork that Makes Sense for Reading

Tim Shanahan

Teacher question:
I work with students in small groups daily and need the rest of the students to be engaged in meaningful practice of their new literacy skills. What types of activities would be best for this practice?

Shanahan response:
The benefits of small group instruction are obvious. Teachers can make the learning experience more apt and intense – the small numbers allow for more responsiveness, more vigilant monitoring, and fine tuning of the teaching.

The downside of small group instruction should be equally evident. While the teacher is working with one small group, the rest of the kids are on their own. Much more learning takes place with the teacher and, frankly, much less with the kids on their own.

What kinds of activities fit the bill? Here are a few that can be done with any texts that the students are trying to read. The key is to focus them on key parts of the text or language that you suspect will trip kids up.

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